Scientists recommend dedicating 30 to 40 minutes daily to vigorous exercise to counteract the health risks associated with prolonged sitting.
The suggestion is based on a 2020 meta-analysis of nine studies involving 44,370 individuals across four nations. Fitness trackers were used to monitor activity levels, and increased moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was linked to a reduced mortality risk.
Activity Intensity and Duration
Engaging in activities like cycling, brisk walking, or gardening at a moderate to vigorous intensity for 30-40 minutes can neutralize the heightened risk of premature death associated with extended periods of sitting.
Alignment with WHO Guidelines
The recommendation aligns with the 2020 Global Guidelines on Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior by the World Health Organization, which advocates for 150-300 minutes of moderate activity or 75-150 minutes of intense exercise weekly.
Emphasis on Any Physical Activity
Emmanuel Stamatakis, a specialist in physical activity and population health, emphasizes the overall benefit of any physical activity compared to none. The study’s reliance on wearable device data adds objectivity, contrasting with self-reported information.
Challenges in Crafting Guidelines
Crafting universally applicable guidelines is challenging, but the suggestion for 40 minutes of physical activity is supported by existing studies. The researchers advise starting with shorter durations and gradually increasing activity levels for those unable to meet the 30-40-minute target initially.
Unanswered Questions and Ongoing Research
While unanswered questions persist, such as the threshold for ‘excessive sitting,’ ongoing research is expected to provide more insights on maintaining health despite long hours of sedentary work. Stamatakis anticipates that, with continued progress, more definitive answers will emerge in the coming years.